From street lamps and sidewalks to storm drains and sewers, civil engineering projects designed to be environmentally friendly are under way in communities across the United States, according to Voice of America.
The city of Toledo, Ohio, in a pilot project, is adopting green infrastructure techniques to alleviate storm water run-off and to reduce basement flooding in residential areas.
Jeanette Stinson has lived on Maywood Avenue, a lower income neighborhood on the north side of Toledo, for 58 years. She's seen a lot of changes in that time, but says some of the best have come in the last year and a half.
With money from the federal government, the city transformed the existing grassy areas between the sidewalk and street into a natural storm water drainage system, and landscaped it with native plants, flowers, and shrubs. Stinson added some of her own perennials.
These new areas, or bioswales, as they're known, are actually designed for floods, not flowers. Before they were put in, most of the basements on Maywood would flood whenever the city experienced a heavy rainfall. That caused sewers to back up, sometimes spilling raw sewage into the area rivers.
Engineer Andy Langenderfer worked on the project to slow the runoff by diverting it into the bioswales. "We dug out the existing [area] behind the curb, which used to drain from behind the sidewalk, over the curb and then it would go directly into the storm sewer. Now we're taking off all that direct runoff to the storm sewer. "
To create a bioswale, they dug a shallow ditch, then filled it with layers of gravel and soil that permit rainfall to drain into the ground instead of overflowing into the sewers. These strips were planted with grasses and deep-rooted groundcover to further aid absorption. New sidewalks and driveways were built behind the bioswales with a water-permeable type of concrete that also slowed run-off.
Coordinators chose Maywood Avenue because there was already a community garden on the street, so they believed the neighbors would embrace the project. But, resident Jonathan White remembers being uncertain about the project when the organizers went door to door to explain the plan.
"I really wasn't sure about it. I didn't know, they were talking about digging water gardens and all that and I wasn't sure about digging in my yard," he says. "Then we came out and saw that and I was like, I'm not sure about that either. But it worked out. I like it."
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